Many long to have a vacation home by the beach, but only a few are able to turn this dream into reality. One family’s dream of a seaside home began in the 1990s, when they were based in Hong Kong. Their flat was situated directly in front of Stanley Bay, so even when they lived in one of the busiest financial centres in the world, it was as though they were in a private oasis.
Each morning, the couple’s daughter, three years old then, would stand in front of the picture window to watch the waves crash into the rocks. When they asked her why she did that, she said, “Nature is so beautiful and peaceful.”
Their daughter’s precocious reply so struck the couple that upon their return to Manila almost a decade later, they started looking at waterfront properties in hopes of recreating that feeling. However, they couldn’t seem to find any properties that fit the bill.
When their eldest left for abroad to study, it dawned on them that 10 years had passed and they still hadn’t realised their dream. It was then that a friend told them about a place where his family had owned a lot for many years—the private cove of Matuod in Lian, Batangas.
Matuod is said to have gotten its name from the flatness of its beach—even hundreds of metres away from the shore, the water only reaches up to one’s “tuhod” (knee). The neighbourhood is quiet and tranquil—so rarely would one see someone along the shore that residents often feel that they have the beach all to themselves.
The very next day after they learnt about Matuod, the family went on a road trip to the place, and instantly fell in love with the locale. When the property they liked the most came into the market, they didn’t waste any more time, and promptly took the first steps towards realising their dream.
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Building a Dream
The couple worked closely with the architects Mitch Pineda and Macky Corpuz, and were very specific about what they wanted, They travel a lot so they wanted their weekend abode to be close to nature, a peaceful and cosy rest and relaxation haven to come home to. They opted for a design with clean and simple lines as they wanted their home to be fuss-free and easy to maintain.
The lady of the house admires Sri Lankan architecture, especially the work of Geoffrey Bawa, which inspired her vision, “The mix of colonial and traditional Asian architecture seemed to fit seamlessly into the setting,” she explains.
A cosmopolitan woman with a penchant for decorating and styling, she is no stranger to interior design. She enlisted the help of her interior designer friends (all renowned names in their field) to achieve the look and mood that she wanted. “But because we had the most amazing view, there was not really much that was needed,” she says.
Their hard work resulted in a tropical-colonial home with an extension for a guest house and a pavilion for entertaining family and guests. There are several fine Filipino furniture pieces in the home, including exceptional wooden tables by Osmundo Esguerra in the dining area. The Davinci chairs by Sika Design are by themselves an invitation to sit back and picture life in an earlier, simpler time.
One other beloved piece is the round coffee table in the family block. Its base was created by a furniture maker in Pampanga, while its top was beautifully painted by the artist Tats Manahan in a tortoise finish to match a giant turtle shell that the lady of the house had inherited many years ago.
Installed in the pavilion are screens created by the visual artist Dindon Cordova. “They were originally intended to depict an English garden and were used as a backdrop for our daughter’s Secret Garden-themed debut dinner,” the owner explains. “It really complemented our tropical-colonial concept.”
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A Tropical Garden
The most important construction work on the vacation home was the garden. The couple’s home in Manila only has a small garden, and their property in Matuod offered ample space for a big yard where their kids could run around and play.
Before buying the property, they were concerned about an inland waterway that took up a substantial portion of the property.The locals told them that this was where water from the mountains passes to go to the sea. The waterway was unattractive, and gave the couple some serious reservations. Some of their friends suggested covering up the eyesore, but the couple knew that they didn’t want to fight nature, “because nature will always win.”
To get around it, they sought the help of the landscapist Ponce Veridiano, who saw an opportunity to build a magnificent structure. He transformed the waterway into a beautiful lagoon, which has made the garden unique and truly like an oasis.
It’s no wonder that the garden is the lady of the house’s favourite place in the property. New to gardening, she finds it relaxing to weed the garden in the morning. Also in the yard is another favourite piece—a pair of hanging egg chairs by Ninna Dietzel, which is almost always occupied as here is where the phone reception and the signal for Internet are strongest.
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The Carefree Life
The family visits their Matuod vacation home twice a month, not as frequent as they would like. Here, their days are carefree and relaxed. It is a place where they can escape from the noise of the world. Here, they wake up to the sounds of birdsong and waves lapping on the shore—not text messages, phone calls, or email alerts.
In Matuod, mornings are for walking the dogs along the beach and taking pre-breakfast hikes up the nearby mountain. Time is stretched out and savoured, spent curled up with a good book or in the yard playing games with the whole family (the man of the house often drives to the nearby Calatagan Golf Club to play golf ).
Afternoons are usually spent eating together, playing board games, and swimming in the sea and in the pool after to cool off. At sundown, they have drinks at the deck to watch the sun set, followed by an early dinner al fresco, if weather permits.
“It is always a vacation for us since we don’t follow a schedule and just play it by ear,” the lady of the house says. “It really is such a luxury.”
Photography: Albert Labrador | Production: Mia Borromeo